bike fever

November 3rd, 2009

I’ve been spending my lunch breaks and bus rides reading Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac cover to cover. That, plus trying to spend more commuting time atop my first real road bike (replacement for my beloved hybrid that was swiped from my backyard last month), and I’m developing a real affinity for these two-wheeled machines. Between the environmental benefits, the public health benefits, and the sheer joy of the wind in your hair and sweat on your brow, I’m enamored. It seems a natural extension of everything I hold dear (local, susatainable food, kitchen gardens, craft beer) to embrace the self-sufficiency and minimal impact of biking. Especially when you can bike on over to the farmer’s market, beer bars, and farm-to-table restaurants in the ‘hood…

Anyway, that’s my introduction to the nyt article I just stumbled across. While I’m not quite car free, I love to thought of swapping my four wheels for two every chance I get.

(Yikes, sorry so sloppy with this link: I just downloaded wordpress for blackberry and don’t have time to figure out how to embed it…ps–when is the last time you saw “sorry so sloppy”? Flashback…)

Slow Food USA Continues Pay-What-You-Wish Membership Drive

October 3rd, 2009

Want to join Slow Food but can’t afford the $60 membership fee? You’re not alone. During the month of September, Slow Food ran a campaign where a contribution of any amount would make you a member for a year (or renew your membership). If you missed the window, now’s your chance–the organization is continuing the promotion for another two weeks, this time with a member agreeing to match all contributions made. This means if you donate $20 for a membership, Slow Food gets $40. It’s a win-win situation. Donate here, read about it here.

One Local Summer Week 4: Crab-Stuffed Mussels?

June 29th, 2009

I always feel bad when my efforts to eat local interfere with other things in my life. Last week,  I turned down a friend’s offer to go hang out on a boat and watch the sunset during the longest day of the year because I had bought all the ingredients to cook a local meal. (Note to self: don’t turn down any more  offers to hang out on a boat.) So it was a refreshing surprise this week to have someone else propose a local meal to me. I got this email from my friend Doug on Tuesday:

“We haven’t had a dinner party in awhile so I figured it would be a good idea to get that started again. You may have heard of a documentary that just came out called Food, Inc. that’s basically the movie version of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (it looks into where food really comes from, how it’s made/raised, and eating local), and I was thinking we could do a theme that revolves around that. Maybe go see the movie and then back to someone’s place for an all local dinner.”

Um, twist my arm.  I volunteered our house to host the meal, and we settled on this afternoon to go see the movie. I have to say it was pretty gratifying to sit in the theater realizing the quality of the ingredients that were waiting for us as we returned. Here was our menu:

AAAA salad (arugula, avocado, asparagus and apple)


Carlsbad mussels and clams, steamed in Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale


Rotisseried Womach chicken with lemon and sage


Roasted cauliflower and mushrooms, plus roasted baby potatoes


Grilled corn on the cob


South Coast Winery Ruby Cuvee (sparkling syrah)


Murrieta sangria with stone fruit and berries


And fruit salad for dessert!

The surprise of the evening came about a half-dozen mussles in, when I glanced down at my fork and saw what looked like legs sticking out of the mussel.  Turns out they were legs…crab legs!  A little critter had seen fit to crawl into an open shell and hang out for a while.



Other than that little surprise, the meal went off without a hitch.


Hey Doug, good thinking!

And now that I know everyone has seen Food, Inc., I have a hunch we’ll be doing this again sometime soon…

One Local Summer Week 3: Womach Chicken

June 22nd, 2009

So, I missed last week’s OLS posting (I did manage a quick local meal–and that post is to come). But this week, I finally had the time to do my local foodshed justice.

About six months ago, I learned of Curtis Womach, and the pastured chicken farm he and a partner started out in Julian (about an hour’s drive from San Diego).  Until then, I had not found a reliable source of local poultry, nor, can I say, had I ever had such delicious chicken. Curtis’s chickens are pasture-raised, in a method inspired by Joel Salatin’s mobile chicken coop (which Curtis read about in Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma). (A fantastic article about Curtis and his operation ran in the Spring 09 issue of Edible San Diego.) Curtis himself drives to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market each Sunday, and I’d been meaning to swing by and pick up a chicken for weeks.

I’d also been meaning to harvest some overgrown pole beans and an increasingly massive beet. So it was pretty easy to decide what to make for my local meal this week. We had:

  • Lemon herb chicken breasts
  • Roasted smashed potatoes
  • Homegrown Chioggia beets with mint
  • Homebrewed IPA-braised carrots and chard

Here’s the bounty:


As with before, I had way more food than I needed for one meal. I quartered the chicken–the backbone went into the freezer for future chicken stock (along with the giblets and feet), and the thighs and legs are waiting to be turned into a future meal. (The breasts were enormous–there was plenty of meat for four).

Here’s a close up of the Womach Ranch label:


…and of the massive beet from our yard:


Here’s the candy-cane cross-section:


And the monsterous pole beans:


This meal’s flavor came from the yard! There’s lemons, mint, oregano, rosemary, and thyme:


And, of course, there was good deal of flavor from the grill!


Here’s the smashed potatoes along with the braised greens and carrots:


And the homegrown beet, bean, and mint salad


And finally, I rooted around the wine stash and found the last bottle of Grenache rose from a trip to Baja last May.


Everything turned out great!


I’ll try to post recipes a little later… the entire meal was a cinch to make!

Blind Lady + Victory Gardens = Blind Victory?

June 10th, 2009

Good things are growing in San Diego these days. Like this amazing organization that has sprung onto the scene: Victory Gardens San Diego.

I’m incredibly excited about what VGSD is doing. First, the organization is actually a collaboration of over a dozen local groups who kind of banded together to make things happen when they realized they were all working toward a shared goal. Um, this needs to happen more often.

Then there’s the goal–to get more people growing their own food. This also needs to happen more often! (And as someone with a terribly brown thumb who has managed to coax vegetables from her front yard, I can assure you it’s not hard.) The idea behind VGSD, of course, is that with more people growing our own food, the more sustainable and just our food system is, and the healthier our diets become. This is why the organizations behind it are as diverse as the SD County Childhood Obesity Initiative, San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, and the International Rescue Committee. Helping people grow their own food makes a hell of a lot of sense from a hell of a lot of different perspectives.

The nonprofit has a lot of things in the works, including a pretty fun way to support them coming up. If you’re at all interested in starting a food garden, check out the  Community Garden Festival this weekend. The workshop lineup looks incredibly helpful.

But if you’re looking for a less hands-on way to support local gardens, head to the upcoming fundraiser at Blind Lady next Sunday. $1 from each local beer will be donated to VGSD, specifically to help start a garden in South Park. Looks like a few volunteers will also be on hand if you have any questions about getting involved or about gardening.

Here’s the flyer:


Sure, the place will be crowded, but beer, pizza, and front yard gardens sounds like a pretty good combination to me!

One Local Summer 2009! Week 1

June 4th, 2009

As I’ve said numerous times, one of my favorite exercises on this blog has been One Local Summer. In participating, you commit to preparing, eating, and blogging about one completely-local meal a week, for each of the 10 weeks of the summer. I started it in 2007, and I’m delighted to be able to participate for my third summer in a row.

This week kicks off the first week of OLS 2009. Because I a) had everything on hand, b) had very little time this week, and c) wanted an excuse to live up to, uh, my favorite apron–


I decided to go with a classic. Burgers!

This was a really simple meal. Here are the ingredients I happened to have on hand:


That’s eggplant and corn from Kawano farms, German butterball potatoes from Mary Hillebrecht, tomatoes from Valdivia farms, and ground beef from Brandt Beef, fashioned into patties. All of that came from the Thursday afternoon downtown farmers’ market. Then, there are eggs from a neighbor about 2 miles down the road, and arugula and lettuce from the front yard.

I also managed to scrounge up a sandwich roll from Bread on Market, which I had stored in the freezer and which made a satisfyingly monstrous bun–even with just half a roll per burger:


Well it turns out I had way more ingredients than I needed for the meal. The potatoes and eggplant went back into the fridge and emerged at the next night’s dinner (also nearly local–steak frites with a side of spicy eggplant and peppers). Tonight, though, it was all about simplicity.

We cracked open some Stone IPAs, tossed the burgers and corn on the grill, and the eggs in a cast iron skillet. In about 20 minutes, we had our first One Local Summer meal:


I can’t wait for next week!

Bike to Work Day is May 15

May 3rd, 2009

That’s just over 10 days to plan your route, inflate your tires, and take a few practice laps around the neighborhood. When you’re ready, register here to count your commuting miles toward the event total. Find maps and more on the Bike to Work Day website.

Food Writing Resources

May 2nd, 2009

I put together a list of food writing resources to give to those who came to the food writing workshop at the Cultivating Food Justice conference today, and I figured it would also be helpful to post it for the general internets to find.

Food Writing Resources


Allen, Gary. The Resource Guide for Food Writers. Oxford, UK: Routledge, 1999.

Hughes, Holly, editor. The Best Food Writing Anthologies. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company, annual.

Jacobs, Dianne. Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction, and More…. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company, 2005.

Ostman, Barbara Gibbs and Jane Baker. The Recipe Writer’s Handbook. New York, NY, Wiley, 2001.

White, Pam. Make Money as a Food Writer in Six Lessons: The Self Study Course for Food Writing Success. Adams, NY:, 2006.

Strunk, Jr., William and E.B. White. Elements of Style. 4th Ed. New York, NY: Longman, 2000.

Web Sites

Association of Food Journalists:

Food Bloggers’ Code of Ethics: Includes articles, food writing courses, and e-newsletter.

International Association of Culinary Professionals:

Media Bistro: (Aimed at all media professionals, including food writers. Includes courses, workshops, articles, jobs, and more—there are several courses on food writing.)


Dianne Jacobs’ quarterly newsletter – includes writing opportunities, classes, and events. To subscribe visit:

Dana McCauley & Associates “Topline Trends” newsletter – covers emerging food trends and news. To subscribe visit:

Pam White’s weekly newsletter – includes articles, tips, markets, jobs. To subscribe, send email to:

Grants, Conferences, and Other Resources

The Culinary Trust Harry A. Bell Travel Grant. Provides funds for travel and research expenses during the time in which a proposal is being written and before a publishing contract has been awarded. Proposals should demonstrate significant contributions to the knowledge about food. For more information, see:

Field to Plate Food Writing Workshop & Retreat. Sept. 16 – 18, 2009, Santa Fe, NM. $399.

M.F.K. Fisher Scholarship – $2,000 scholarship for incoming CIA students with an interest in food writing.

The Symposium for Professional Food Writers. The Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Annually. Several scholarships available.

Additional Articles about food writing

Michael Ruhlman on Food Writing:

David Leite’s post on E Gullet –How to Be a Better Food Writer:

This is certainly nowhere close to a comprehensive list! If I’ve missed something you find particularly valuable, let me know in the comments!

My First Garden Child

April 29th, 2009

I don’t know what it feels like to give birth, but I really think it’s gotta feel something like this.

My First Beet

THIS beet …


…came from MY garden. I’m so proud!

You can’t really tell the size from that photo. But it’s huge!

Homegrown and La Milpa Beets

Here it is next to some La Milpa beets.

I can’t believe I am even able to compare something I’ve grown to something grown at La Milpa!  This is a monumental day for me…

Local in 20 Minutes

March 23rd, 2009

I’ve got two words for you tonight: Spaghetti Carbonara. Quick, easy, and (best of all when you are dishwasher-less) it only dirties two pots. Plus, I think it costs all of $5 for two, and that’s with some amazing pastured eggs and Knight Salumi pancetta.


Just look at the eggy goodness:


As for recipes, I went with Leite’s Culinaria’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara, which is perfect in its simplicity; although there’s no doubt the quality of this meal owes itself entirely to the ingredients. With these eggs, any recipe would do.

Take, for example, the simple breakfast sandwiches we made a few days ago:


(Oh, and this photo  also contains evidence supporting my excuse for not blogging that much lately–that’s homegrown arugula!)